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Low carb diets protect brain while helping with weight loss: Food pyramid fails

Low carb diets include dairy.
Low carb diets include dairy.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It is the dawning of the age of butter - not to mention beef, cheese and eggs. As new research points to high fat low carb diets as the solution for everything from permanent weight loss to diabetes, more consumers are eagerly hopping on the butter bandwagon, reported MSNBC News on Saturday.

Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz talked wtih MSNBC about her in-depth research challenging the prevailing food pyramid that green-lights grains and bans butter and beef. Author of "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet," Nina detailed her discovery that the food pyramid is based on faulty studies.

In addition, Nina notes that she succeeded in achieving her ideal weight only when she stopped being a vegetarian and went on a high fat low carb diet. Her cholesterol levels also improved as a result of this change.

And she's not alone in condemning the USDA food pyramid's prevailing emphasis on grains. The low-fat, high carb diet prescribed by the USDA is resulting in an epidemic of Alzheimer's disease and obesity, neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter told WRVO News on Sunday.

“Carbohydrate immediately induces increase in inflammation and an increase in the production of free radicals, which damage protein, fat, and DNA," he warned. And like Nina, he believes that the solution for health and weight loss is a low carb diet.

Author of "Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers," Dr. Perlmutter believes that our bodies are designed to do best on plans high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates.

“This [the low-carb diet] is how humans have always eaten. It’s only been in the last 150 years that sugar has started to creep into the American diet," he declared.

In an article entitled "Low-Carb Diets — Research Shows They May Be More Beneficial Than Other Dietary Patterns," Today’s Dietitian magazine recently celebrated the proven benefits of low carb diets for weight loss and for conditions such as type 2 diabetes. But despite the research, the standard diet advice in schools focuses on high carb, low fat diets, following the food pyramid model.

Yet the message that high fat low carb diets are healthier overall is not new. Gary Taubes presented a detailed argument that we are fat because of our high intake of carbohydrates in "Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It."

In addition, a team including two noted physicians penned an updated version of the high fat low carb ketogenic Atkins diet, "New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great."

Yet the food pyramid remains the same. Are the influences of food corporations impacting consumers' education about nutrition?

In an exclusive interview, we talked with Denise Minger about her view that the food pyramid has failed the American public. She is the author of "Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health."

Denise describes her book as "an exploration of the politics, wayward science, and chronic misinformation shaping (and damaging) our beliefs about food." She is concerned that people too often give into what she calls "harmful dietary dogma."

With all the fad diets available, Denise advocates science-based eating, which avoids hype and focuses on health. She believes there is no "perfect" diet.

"There's enough variation in human genetics, health history, gut ecology, and so forth to justify the idea that no single diet is best for all people. We each need something tailored to our individuality," Denise stated.

However, she does feel that the ideal diet avoids or minimizes unhealthy fats. Instead, as with the Paleo diet, Denise advocates traditional fats such as coconut oil, olive oil and ghee.

In addition, Denise encourages consumption of both plant-based and animal protein and nutrient-dense foods. Fermented foods, dark leafy grains and shellfish reign high on her list of approved foods.

And like Dr. Perlmutter, Denise advises avoiding refined grains and sugar. However, while the Paleo diet eliminates legumes, Denise feels that for those who can tolerate them, they should be prepared by soaking, fermenting or sprouting.

And in general, the ideal diet is one "that focuses on foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and from high quality
sources." Her own diet includes fruit, free-range chicken or eggs, fish, vegetables, healthy fats such as avocado and coconut water.

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